Meaders pottery

Meaders pottery

The Meaders Pottery dynasty began on a whim. It's founder John Milton Meaders built a log shop on the outskirts of Cleveland, Georgia in a tiny community known as Mossy Creek. []


In the 1830s, some 60 folk potters operated shops within a four mile area of Mossy Creek in White County, making it one of the largest communities of potters in the South. Names like Dorsey, Craven, Pitchford, Davidson, Brownlow, Warwick, Chandler, and Anderson to name a few. []

In 1892, John Milton Meaders took advantage of the large clay deposit on his land and built a small log pottery shop and kiln. He then hired William Dorsey and Marion Davidson to turn ware and teach his oldest sons, Wiley, Caulder and Cleater. The older boys in turn taught the younger boys, Casey, L.Q. and Cheever. []

The boys worked in their daddy's shop until they married and went out on their own. Wiley built a shop across the creek from the home place. Cleater built a shop on the north end of Cleveland. Caulder moved out west to become a railroad man. Casey moved to North Carolina. L.Q. worked at the other's shops and hauled the ware for sale. Cheever the youngest son stayed and took over the running of his daddy's shop. []

In 1920, with the start of prohibition, and with glass and tin easier to get, the need for pottery became less and less. When the Great Depression hit and no one had cash to buy anything, most of the pottery shops were forced to close. But Cheever Meaders was determined to continue to hold on and sell his wares even at a nickel a gallon. []

During the 1930s, the road in front of Cheever's shop became a US highway, making it the main road from Canada to Florida. Tourists would stop on their way to the beach and check out the pottery shop. Gift shops started stocking his pottery to sell to the tourists. Even though Cheever's customers were different, his work remained unchanged. Using the old ways to make his ware, he continued making the same type of pottery. The exception being face jugs. Will Hewell, of the Gillsville family of potters, worked in different shops in White County during the early 1900s. He taught Cheever to make face jugs. Cheever felt the pieces were a waste of time, but they were making money. []

During this time, a trend towards an artistic approach to their work appeared in the Meaders shop. Arie Meaders, Cheever's wife, started working in the shop and put a decorative touch to the pieces by adding grapes, flowers, and birds. She later had Cheever set up a wheel and began to turn for herself. Arie's most creative work was a collection of purely decorative birds and chickens. []

In the mid 1960's the Smithsonian Institution filmed a documentary on Meaders Pottery. This was shortly before Cheever's death in 1967. Unable to do much work at this time, his son Lanier took over the family tradition. Lanier was influenced by his Mother's style. He became most famous for his face jugs. Many were sold to the Smithsonian creating a large demand all over the county. []


Today the old shop stands empty, but the tradition is far from dead. Many family members still turn in their own shops. Cheever and Arie's children kept the skills they learned as children at their parents knees, and in later life picked up the craft again. Some of the other early Meaders' children and grandchildren are continuing the tradition as well. []


1. June 30, 2008
2. June 30, 2008

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